Bike Fest & Pedal Pittsburgh 2012

August is a big month for Bike Pgh, Pittsburgh’s bike advocacy group. In addition to celebrating their 10th year in the Burgh, Bike Pgh will be hosting the 8th annual Bike Fest, which now includes PedalPGH, a large-scale bike event originally created 18 years ago by the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh. The Bike Fest begins with PedalPGH, an all-inclusive bike event on August 5th. This year, Bike Pgh is taking over PedalPGH by expanding its scope and making it the largest group bike ride in the state. They will have 3 routes to choose from: a family-friendly no-cars trail, a low-traffic city ride, and a 63-mile tour of the city, hills included.

For 2012, Bike Fest will span fifteen days. A variety of biking activities will occur throughout the city. Bike Pgh will also host a fundraiser party August 10th. All donations will go toward Bike Pgh’s mission: transforming streets and communities into vibrant, healthy places by making them safe and accessible for everyone to bike and walk.

2012 Venture Outdoors Festival

Last weekend was the annual Venture Outdoors festival, and the SPAQP was there handing out kites and Frisbees and teaching visitors about the Air Quality Index. Venture Outdoors encourages everyone to run, jump, kayak, climb, swim, walk, bike … anything to enjoy the outdoors! The SPAQP wants everyone to be able to appreciate the beauty of Southwestern Pennsylvania every day. When we choose to take positive steps toward cleaner air, we’re making sure everyone can get out and enjoy the outdoors whenever they want. Visit to learn more about the program.

Air Quality Awareness Week

April 30th – May 4th is Air quality Awareness Week! The easiest way to stay aware of the air is to sign up to have the air quality forecast and Air Quality Index (AQI) levels sent directly to your inbox.

The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality that translates pollution levels to colors. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health affects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. To learn more about the AQI, please visit

If you are in the Pittsburgh and greater Allegheny County region, sign up for air quality information at 

SPAQP Lawn Mower Exchange!

The SPAQP will be hosting lawn mower exchanges at 17 True Value stores in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Partnership is offering 300 rebates available on a first-come, first-serve basis, one rebate per household for a lawnmower and/or a lawn trimmer. Residents, at their convenience, may visit their local participating True Value Store to exchange the lawn equipment. Residents will receive a $100 rebate toward the purchase of an electric or battery-powered mower and $25 toward the purchase of an electric or battery-powered trimmer or chain saw.

This program is an ozone-reduction strategy – the combustion of gasoline from lawn equipment, typically in warmer summer days, produces volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOCs are ozone precursors.

The exchange will begin over the weekend of April 28th and end on May 31st.

Follow this link to learn more about the program, and to see what True Value stores are participating. 

Attainment of PM2.5 Standard

For the first time since the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) began monitoring fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution, Allegheny County is monitoring attainment of the current annual PM2.5 standard.

The annual PM2.5 SIP submitted by ACHD projected attainment within the Liberty-Clairton area by 2014. Recent monitoring, however, shows the Liberty monitor in attainment 3 years ahead of schedule. The Liberty monitor’s 2009-2011 PM2.5 design value is 15 ug/m3. Design values are statistics that describe the air quality status of a given area relative to the level of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In other words, they are averaged values that EPA uses to officially determine attainment or non-attainment of standards. The 15 ug/m3 design value at the Liberty monitor means the area is currently in attainment of the standard. With this, all of Allegheny County is in attainment of the current annual standard for the first time.

The early attainment is due in large part to local and regional controls of PM2.5 and the pollutant’s precursors. While 2009 was a low production year and emission levels from industry across the country were lower than normal, 2010 and 2011 were representative of normal production levels. Both years are included in the design value calculation, indicating a substantial decline in emissions despite normal production levels.

The new data is great news for residents of the Liberty-Clairton area, and suggests that substantial improvements are being made. The next critical issue is the PM2.5 24-Hour standard of 35ug/m3. Currently, all sites in Allegheny County except the Liberty monitor are in attainment. ACHD is projecting attainment at Liberty by 2014.

Mapnificent: Plan Your Day with Public Transportation

Mapnificent is an online project that helps you plan your day via public transportation. As the website says, “Mapnificent shows you the area you can reach with public transport from any point in a given time.”

Say you are at a meeting in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood, you have an hour to grab lunch, and you would really like to stop at a Thai restaurant. Set your original location, add in how much time you have to travel, and search “Thai Restaurants.” Mapnificent will show you Thai Restaurant locations that you can reach via public transportation within the travel time you have allotted.

Mapnificent is available in many cities worldwide, and is great for when you’re traveling. Next time you’re traveling to an unfamiliar city or neighborhood, check Mapnificent and rely on local public transit – or your own two feet – to get you around in an environmentally-conscious way.

Mapnificent: Pittsburgh

Mapping Solar Grid Parity

Energy Self-Reliant States has developed a Google Map-based assumption of when cities and states will reach solar grid parity. In other words, the map shows when non-renewable commodity prices will equal, or be greater than, the cost of solar-generated power. The website describes it best: “Solar grid parity describes the moment when electricity from solar power is less costly than electricity from the existing grid. It’s a tipping point, when democratization of the electricity system not only makes political and economic sense, but becomes more competitive than using utility-delivered electricity.”

This map makes several assumptions, but as a general baseline it provides an interesting assessment of where and when solar power can be the most useful in different areas.

Energy Self Reliant States: Mapping Solar Grid Parity


Welcome to the new Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership blog! In this space, we will be sharing regional air quality news, discussing new regulations and initiatives, highlighting interesting events, and showcasing other sites and projects of interest.